Monday, August 04, 2008
When they say that Mini Coopers handle like go-karts, they mean it! I got to test drive the whole line up on a closed track and they are tossable unlike any other car I've driven. I think they're the most agile cars next to the Lotus Exige and Elise. The track was really tight. I don't think any other cars would have even fit on their tight autocross course especially around the hairpin turns. Minis are a joy to drive. Other cars would have groaned and their tires would have screamed in protest if asked to do the same quick response lateral changes.
I drove the Mini Cooper, the Clubman, the convertible, and the "S" supercharged versions of each as well as the top of the line John Cooper Works. The JCW has 207 hp. It has the best handling too thanks in part to its high performance Continental tires. It was able to go around corners noticeably faster and with much less tire squeal compared to the regular Mini. It also has a nice growl to it when driven hard. The acceleration was much better than the regular car.
Even the regular Mini is a great handling car. I love the agility of these Minis. They are the most go-kart like of all the cars out there. They weight about 2500 pounds. If only they had about 300 hp, the Mini would be the perfect sports car. They would be fast and incredible handling. I do like a bit of neck-snapping acceleration with my lateral g handling. They also have a surprising amount of space, at least in the front 2 seats. I lot of people customize their Minis. Some of the Minis I've driven had pretty nice interiors.
Minis remind me of the time when I raced go-karts in San Diego. I was driving on a slick track and I was grinning from ear to ear as I drifted around corners. They gave me a driving sensation of the car being a part of me that I have not felt since then. I felt total control as I made power slides around corners. It was as if I driving was an art form. That's what I want my cars to feel like when I'm racing in and out of traffic.
Fortunately, the lines were really short when I went there in the morning. I was able to drive all the cars and still make it to the VBS meetings by 10:00 a.m. We were at church all freaking weekend and late into the night each night.
I've always wanted to drive a Mini and I'm glad I had a chance to drive it. Someone once told me that his Mini was more fun to drive than his Porsche. Now, I've had first hand knowledge as to why.